Gym roof solar array
February 14, 2024

Clean Green Schools Initiative – 100% Funding for Cooling

Many New York State school districts have a rare opportunity to modernize their facilities 100% funded by the state. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s Clean Green Schools Initiative announced at the end of January, around 70% of NYS school districts qualify for funding, which can apply when only one of a district’s schools is in the under-resourced areas. 

School districts that are already planning on EPCs can take advantage of Track II: Installation funding for cooling and decarbonization projects available until June 6, 2024, and additional funding for planning for future projects in Track I is available through the end of 2025.   

This announcement by Governor Hochul is a direct and bold indicator of the state’s policies regarding energy efficiency and decarbonization.  Energy projects can achieve a maximum possible funding amount of $5 million per building and $10 million for multiple buildings, by including one of the following Clean Cooling/Heating & Path Toward Decarbonization solutions:  

  • Air-source heat pumps 
  • Ground-source heat pumps 
  • VRF cooling systems 
  • Steam to hot water conversions 

When one of these solutions is part of the project, additional energy conservation measures can be 100% funded including: 

  • Solar PV installations 
  • Window replacement and envelope improvements 
  • LED lighting conversions 
  • Ventilation upgrades 

Thanks to this funding, school districts that are still reliant on steam heating systems have a tremendous opportunity to make a giant leap forward, converting to hot water and incorporating heat pumps. Districts will benefit from significant operational and performance improvements and attract additional funding from several time-sensitive programs currently available.  

Triple Leverage Funding with Ecosystem EPCs

The Clean Green Schools Initiative is not the only funding available. State aid applies to almost all such investments – even when the project is 100% funded by the Clean Green Schools Initiative – further enhancing financial performance. Today, the Inflation Reduction Act Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will also give up to 35% of the cost invested in Solar PV generation. When the value of the credit is guaranteed by Ecosystem in an EPC, districts can either leverage this to build more scope in their project or help the project’s cash flow generation.  

Ecosystem is in the process of obtaining ITC credits for both Glen Cove and North Shore school districts, and we’re exploring other novel approaches.

North shore solar panels - Triple Leverage Funding in NY K-12

North Shore’s 713kW array is fully operational, and Ecosystem has prepared the necessary tax paperwork and documentation for the district to capture the ITC in their next tax filing. Glen Cove’s 594kW arrays began construction in January 2024, and the district is already prepared for when installation is complete to claim their ITC. 

Glen Cove Solar Panels - Triple Leverage Funding in NY K-12

Don’t Wait – These Programs Won’t Last Forever 

It’s a great time to act. Districts that remain on steam heating systems will face higher costs of conversion in the future. When such investments are delayed, the more costly they become, compounded by the risks of higher cost of operations and maintenance and the potential for electrification mandates down the road in line with NYC’s Local Law 97. 

Districts also risk missing out on the current funding opportunities. Over the past decade, similar opportunities were presented for LED lighting upgrades and by solar PV generation. Initially, both technologies were incentivized by state and federal governments, but they have since become common practice and no longer benefit from such incentives.  

Are you interested in learning more about how the Clean Green Schools Initiative and federal tax credits can benefit your district? Are you ready for an EPC that puts you on the right path towards electrification? Ecosystem’s engineers are skilled in maximizing incentives for the benefit of our partner districts – we would be happy to take the time to talk with you. 

Interested in learning more?